Lymphedema is a condition that often occurs after surgery or treatment for cancer. If lymph nodes have been removed, a blockage in the lymph system may occur, causing swelling in the affected limb. Although there is no cure, lymphedema can be managed with careful monitoring.
Lymphedema is a condition in which swelling occurs in the arms and/or legs. It is most often the result of the removal of or damage to lymph nodes. Surgeries to remove lymph nodes are part of certain cancer treatments. The removal of the nodes can cause blockages which prevent lymph fluid from draining properly.
As a result, the fluid remains in the arm or leg, causing swelling. The amount of swelling can vary from very little to large amounts that affect your ability to lead a normal life.
Swelling from lymphedema will occur in an affected arm or leg after surgery or radiation treatments. If you have recently had surgery that involved the lymph nodes, you may be at risk of lymphedema. A person suffering from lymphedema will experience several impairments. They include:
Even though there is no cure for lymphedema, it should be treated as soon as possible and monitored carefully. Sudden changes, such as an increase in swelling, or if the arm or leg looks red and feels hot, can be signs of a blood clot or infection. In these cases, having a medical alert system available could be useful. Symptoms of lymphedema include:
Of these symptoms, the most dangerous are the swelling and recurring infections. Should you experience a sudden change in these symptoms, you should get help as soon as you can. A medical alert system could be a great advantage if the need arises.
Lymphedema has no cure, but does require continual monitoring. If treated early, it can be managed.
There are many additional precautions that can help you to prevent lymphedema flare-ups.
In general, lymphedema can be controlled if monitored on a regular basis. Eating healthy foods, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol are all positive lifestyle changes that can help. If you need additional support, ask your doctor to refer you to a specialist. If you have trouble keeping your lymphedema under control, you might find having a medical alert system to be a wise idea. It can give you peace of mind and provide quick access to medical help if you are experiencing a flare-up of your condition.